26 February, 2015

New year, new equipment

After a year of pleading and pestering, I finally managed to annoy my university into buying some insect survey equipment for students to use on campus. To be fair to them, they did go all out and spent £500 on a sturdy moth trap and an amazingly lightweight battery.

A couple of hardy students swapped the local nightclub for the cold and joined me in christening the moth trap on campus yesterday. We only caught one moth, but with a bat detector to play with, some fantastic Soprano Pipistrelles, a starry sky and a couple of beers, everyone went away happy...

Acleris schalleriana - the first of (hopefully) many insects to be recorded on campus!

17 February, 2015

(More) Skokholm scenery!

Time to reminisce some more...

Autumn sunset

Dusk on the cliffs 

Another autumn sunset

Counting Manx Shearwaters at dusk

Moth trap in situ

Skokholm's only beach

Walking on Skokholm's only beach

Moth pots at the ready

Stormy seas

Some funny little bird looking out to sea

Sea Campion

A lichenologist's dream

Rainbow

Sky rainbow

A break in the clouds

Change over day

Fantastic rollie pollie slope


15 February, 2015

Skokholm scenery

Some lost snaps from my time spent as a long-term volunteer on Skokholm in 2014, a magical little island off the Pembrokeshire coast full of wild things... 

Fulmars in the sun

Looking out to Grassholm

Cliff-top greenery

Dawn at the farm

The jagged red sandstone cliffs of the north coast

Late evening sun lighting up the Pembrokeshire coast

Sea Mayweed in August

 Looking out towards mainland Pembrokeshire from the north cliffs

Grassholm Gannet colony

Skokholm from a dingy

Gulley streams filling after a thunderstorm

Three of 300 Small Tortoiseshells feeding on Water Mint in a stream during a late-summer butterfly influx

A Manx Shearwater fledgeling, succumbed to Puffinosis

Islanders twitching an Icterine Warbler

Drawing straws to decide who would ring the Icterine Warbler

Sunset over Grassholm

Weird, cool rock formations

Sunset over Grassholm

Golden-hair lichen (Teloschistes flavicans), one of the rarest lichens in Britain

Lichen wall

More to come! 

04 February, 2015

Bryophytes need love too!


Living in the centre of Worcester means that I'm only a 10 minute train journey from the rugged and beautiful stretch of wilderness that encompasses the Malvern Hills. A fantastic spot to watch wildlife, with breeding Redstarts and Peregrines in summer, and a host of rare alpine plants and invertebrates to boot.

It's also acted as a great place to catch some fresh air after the stress of various assignment deadline days, and a couple of us enjoyed a nice walk across the hills following a hefty 3000 word dissertation hand in early last week. Owing to their high altitude, the Malvern Hills act like a flashing beacon to migrating birds, and I was hoping to catch up with a small flock of Snow Buntings that had been feeding around the summit for much of December and January. Recent snowy weather would certainly have kept them feeling at home on the exposed hillside, but unsurprisingly it looks as if they may have moved on to warmer climes.

Apart from a hardy Stonechat and a brief flyby from a Peregrine, there wasn't really that much kicking about. I did find a small cluster of Ciliated Fringewort (Ptilidium ciliare) amongst rocky scree; hardly heart-stopping stuff, but look closely and it's hard not to appreciate the intricate detail on such a tiny plant...

What? Oh, c'mon... Bryophytes need love too! 

02 February, 2015

Jaunting about

Last Friday I took an aimless wander through some local woods just outside of Worcester, with some lovely evening light to illuminate the way...






Great to see these beautiful Scarlet Elf-cups (Sarcoscypha coccinea) thriving for another winter - this one perfectly demonstrating the species' alternative name, Fairies' Bath. 

Stereum hirsutum


14 January, 2015

First moth of 2015

Much in the same way that Steve Gale runs a competition for the first person to see a Wheatear every spring, I too run my own wildlife-inspired competition early in the year. However, instead of congratulating people finding Wheatears, my competition celebrates the first moth to be flying in the harsh conditions of early-January, and the hardship and determination that comes with survival at this time of year.

Granted there are a few flaws in the idea; obviously there is no way of awarding a moth with an actual trophy, which means that the competition usually just ends in me buying myself a congratulatory Creme Egg and eating it in alone in the street whilst harbouring a mixture of powerful emotions including (but not limited to) smugness, self-guilt, embarrassment and confusion.


Anyway, the 2015 'trophy' goes to this Dotted Border which was attracted to the lit kitchen window yesterday night! Whoop!

Funnily enough, Dotted Border won the competition last year, and I took a really interesting investigative look into its unusual life-cycle in this blog post... here.